What is Twitter? What’s a ‘tweet’? This is my guide and review of twitter for bloggers!

twitter logo
Last week, I was minding my own business reading my favorite blogs when I came across Alan’s Affiliate Confession posts Twitter Doesn’t Suck Like I Thought it Did. I had heard the name “twitter” a lot, but had been avoiding finding out what it was actually all about. I mean – who needs “yet another” thing to do?! Was it a new facebook, linkedin, stumble upon, digg – I didn’t know, I had no idea what it was (and could really care less). God forbid it turns out to be the next “blogrush” or “Agloco”, if you know what I mean. I respect Alan’s opinion, he hasn’t steered my wrong yet, and if he says I should check it out – just like in the comment I left on that page, I “must” check it out. So, I went to twitter.com and signed up.

Once I signed up I still really didn’t know what it was I had signed up for. Like Alan’s post – most things I read about it told a bit about why people thought it was handy or cool, but not much about what it actually was. So, for the uninitiated (like I was), here you go…(if you already know twitter, keep reading too – because I have cool tools for you as well).

What is Twitter?

Twitter.com is a “new” kind of social networking. I new (ack!) you’ve heard this before. Really, it is. It’s breaking new ground – and I can describe it in just one word: MICROBLOGGING

Twitter does for the web what the Nextel walkie talkie did to revolutionize the cell phone. Yes, it’s that good. Imagine communicating with hundreds, or even thousands of people instantly, non-invasively, and it doesn’t require (but can use) IM or email. It doesn’t compete with your blog, it enhances it. And it can be integrated with nearly every other social networking tool you are signed up for. Are you intrigued yet? Good…

Get yourself a free twitter account and you get your own twitter home page:

Twitter home

At the top of the page you see an “update” box. On the right hand side, note the number “140”. I believe that’s the exact number of characters an SMS text message is limited to. Every time you write a “post” in twitter you are limited to 140 characters. That’s why a call twitter “microblogging”. The small nature of the messages is probably also why each time you “update” it’s called a “tweet”. Writing multiple posts is “tweeting”.

twitter stats So, you have your own twitter home page – now what? Well, you can customize it and finish filling in your profile with your info and pic. I want you to take note of the right sidebar when you’re logged, like the example to the left from my profile page on twitter. You have the option to choose either web or phone updates. That kind of threw me for a loop at first. Phone updates?

I should have seen this coming. My daughter and son are text message crazy on their cell phones, so much in fact I had to get the unlimited plan for all of us. I had predicted for years that someday cell phones, computers, home entertainment systems, car stereos – all of it would converge at somepoint into all kinds of hybrid type devices. So – I chose “phone updates” just to see what would happen.

Next I had to find people to “follow”. I’m not going to get any updates on my phone if I don’t “follow” anyone – it’s kinda like having a feedreader without any rss feeds in it. You can search for people by keyword, or by email address, or you can just click “follow” on someone’s web site if they have twitter updates on their blog. I typed in “wordpress” and clicked on a few to follow, and then added a few bloggers I knew were using twitter now. So now I knew what twitter was, but it was time to try and figure out what I could do with it…